Shane Watson one of four dropped by Australia for discipline breach

 

Australia have dropped vice-captain Shane Watson and three players for the third Test in India for a breach of discipline.

Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson plus Usman Khawaja will also sit out.

The four failed to make a presentation on how to improve the team following defeats in the opening two Tests.

Watson left the tour after the decision, although, with his wife pregnant, there was always a contingency for him to leave early.

The quartet's Test records

Shane Watson : Tests 40 Runs 2558 Wickets 62

Mitchell Johnson : Tests 50 Runs 1403 Wickets 205

James Pattinson : Tests 9 Runs 218 Wickets 39

Usman Khawaja: Tests 6 Runs 263 Wickets 0

Talking about his decision to drop the four players, coach Mickey Arthur said: "This is a line in the sand."

Australia, who play England in back-to-back Ashes series later in 2013, have endured a miserable time on their latest tour, suffering heavy defeats in the opening matches of the four-Test series.

They lost by eight wickets in Chennai in the opening Test to an Indian team inspired by Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 224 runs off 265 balls in the home side's first innings.

The manner of their second Test defeat was even worse, with Australia losing by an innings and 135 runs after being bowled out for only 131 in their second innings.

Worried about his team's form, Arthur asked each member of his squad to produce, by email or in person, three ideas about how the team could improve.

The players had five days to provide their views but the quartet failed to make their points at a team meeting.

Hoggard 'baffled' by punishments

Although all-rounder Watson, 31, has returned home, pacemen Mitchell Johnson, 31, James Pattinson, 22, and batsman Khawaja, 26, will be considered for the fourth Test.

South African Arthur, Australia's first overseas coach, told a news conference:  ''I asked the players at the end of the last game to give me an individual presentation.

"I wanted three points from each of them - technically, mentally and team - as to how we were going to get back over the next couple of games, about how we were going to get ourselves back into the series.

''I believe those four players unfortunately did not meet my requirements so those four players are not available for selection for this Test match.''

He added: "We've given an expectation that is spelt out and although this incident might seem very small in isolation, this is a line in the sand moment for us as a unit in our quest to become the best in the world.

Back-to-back Ashes

Australia travel to England in the summer for a five-Test Ashes series that begins at Trent Bridge on 10 July and runs until late August.

Alastair Cook's team then fly down under in October to prepare for a five-Test series that starts on 21 November and ends in Sydney with the final Test on 3 January, 2014.

''This has been the toughest decision that myself, manager Gavin Dovey and captain Michael Clarke have ever had to make.

''It's a tough, tough decision, but the ramifications for that within our team structure and the message that it sends to all involved in Australian cricket is that we are pretty serious about where we want to take this team.''

Arthur's stance has drawn criticism from former Australia players.

Ex-captain Allan Border told Fox Sports News: "I'm surprised that's the penalty for something so mundane. It seems like it was on a schoolboy tour or something. It's an over the top reaction."

Mark Waugh added: "I've never heard anything so stupid in all my life. It's not under-sixes - this is Test cricket."

Australia now head into the third Test at Mohali on Thursday with 13 players to choose from - and that could drop to 12 if Matthew Wade fails to recover in time from an ankle injury.

The first Ashes Test begins on 10 July at Trent Bridge.